Employee engagement has become an HR buzzword, with thousands of articles covering the benefits of enhanced employee engagement, how to drive it and what can cause it to plummet. A perfectly engaged employee is like the holy grail for a forward-thinking company which knows that an engaged workforce is more loyal, more productive, and less prone to absenteeism. As such, organizations are forever looking for ways and means of boosting employee engagement levels.
Before we press ahead, we should address the basic question: what is employee engagement? Put simply, engagement can be described as a “measurable degree of an employee’s positive or negative emotional attachment to their job, colleagues, and organization which profoundly influences their willingness to learn and perform at work.” It is clear that an employee’s relationship and interaction with his or her co-workers are essential building blocks of engagement.
Co-workers won’t build relationships overnight, and in fact, it can take a significant amount of time and effort to develop lasting, trusting relationships between employees who may have very little in common. However, given that job hopping is becoming increasingly common, we might not have the luxury of time. Thankfully, there are measures managers can take and corporate team building programs that companies can utilize in order to solidify the bonds between existing colleagues. But what are the exact benefits to be derived from such efforts?
All good team development programs begin with improving communication, and improved peer-to-peer communication impacts the workplace in a number of ways. Engagement, job satisfaction, and morale are positively correlated to improved communication. This will ultimately serve to drive your organization’s overall success.
It has been shown that companies who implement strategic communication practices are 4.5 times more likely to have engaged employees and 20% less likely to experience employee turnover. On the other hand, another source showed their surveyed companies lost roughly $37 billion through employee misunderstanding or poor communication.
Increased levels of trust
Team development programs seek to increase levels of trust between a group of employees. This is a critical component to working life and the foundation of employee engagement. Employees need to feel safe and comfortable in their workspace. When competition becomes unhealthy in an organization, and employees are willing to throw one another under the bus in order to succeed, morale and engagement both nosedive.
The aim of teamwork is to demonstrate that only by working together, toward a unified set of company objectives, can the whole business thrive. What is good for one employee is good for everyone. Everyone at your company should be aware of the impact they can have on the bigger picture results of the organization as a whole, and they should be confident that they are a trusted part of a well-oiled machine.
Team building activities allow opportunities for employees to get to know one another better in a fun and relaxed setting. Your business should be doing all it can to encourage amicable relationships between colleagues. With any luck, these friendships will extend outside the confines of work, which has been shown to have a hugely beneficial impact on engagement levels while driving productivity and organizational performance. When it comes to discretionary effort, one notable study found that improved camaraderie and peer relationships prompt employees to go the extra mile at work.
It should also be noted that one study found 45% of respondents admitted to missing their co-workers while out of office, and employees with friends at work are 47% more likely to remain loyal to their companies. People are at the heart of your company, and human beings are sociable creatures; it is in our nature to form tribes. Your employees spend hours a day at the office with their co-workers. Doing what you can to improve these relationships is a wise step to improve both employee engagement and morale in the long-term.
Increased comfort in soliciting feedback
Not everyone is receptive to feedback, and even fewer are willing to give it honestly. Teamwork initiatives help co-workers to work through this awkwardness and facilitate the exchange of constructive, non-competitive feedback. Once employees are aware that they can call upon their colleagues to advise and assist them when required, they can begin to improve their own performance and excel beyond their own expectations.
Employees become united behind a common goal
Teamwork is critical to a company because when an organization can get its employees to pull towards one unified goal, it is far more likely to succeed. Teamwork programs help to provide focus by increasing company transparency. This gives your employees a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose, which work together to boost engagement and drive overall company success.
Business Psychologist Nick Davis is a Director at Davis Associates: an HR consultancy in Surrey, UK, which works alongside companies to inspire greater individual, team, and organizational performance.